Author: David, Contributing Editor
|WHAT ARE ACRYLIC PAINTS?
Acrylic paints are a relatively new medium.
"It started in the 1930's when Mexican outdoor painters needed to develop a new type of paint that would be able to stand up to harsh conditions, such as wind, rain, and humidity. They began to experiment with synthetic resins, used as paint binding agents, and started to mix in dry pigment to create a new type of paint".*
In the 1950s, a way to mix resins with water was developed. The result was a paint very similar to oils, but much more durable. The drying time of the paint was also much faster than with oils. Today, acrylic paints are a very popular medium because of their ease of use: easy to paint with, easy to clean up and can be used on a wide variety of surfaces. They can be used thickly, producing a traditional oil-like painting, or they can be diluted with water to create watercolor-like effects. The range of acrylic paints is almost unbelievable.
|WHAT PAINTS SHOULD I GET?
There are many brands and types to choose from, so how do you know which ones to get? Well, it all depends on what level you are starting at and where you are coming from. For example, if you are an experienced oil painter but have decided to use acrylics because of their quick drying time, you will probably need a high quality, professional-grade paint. On the other hand, if you are new to painting, you don't need that level of quality as you are just learning the medium. The best paints for a student painter would be some good quality, student-grade paint.
Do not get student-grade paints confused with craft acrylics though; they are formulated in far different ways, and using craft acrylics will not give you a good foundation in the medium.
So, you go to the art store and see shelves and shelves of paints, and have no idea where to start. If you are a student painter, I would suggest starting with a student version of professional-grade paint. I think the best place to start would be the Liquitex Basics series. These are very high quality, student-grade paint, and will fit into almost any budget. Other recommended student-grade paints are Winsor and Newton Galeria, Grumbacher Academy acrylics and Daler-Rowney System 3.
|*An alternative to buying Student quality paint is to buy a limited palette of Artists' quality paint, at a very reasonable cost, which would encourage you to mix colours while enjoying the true and best characteristics of the medium. Suggested colors could be e.g. ultramarine blue, naphthol red, hansa yellow light, titanium white and burnt sienna.
If you have been painting for a while, let's say in oils, you will probably need a high-quality, professional-grade paint, of which there are many, that will stand up to your demands.
I personally use Winsor and Newton Finity Artists' Acrylics but I have also been very pleased with Grumbacher Finest Acrylics. It's really a matter of personal preference, so get some colors that are right for you, and see what you think.